I hear a lot of people say that the products that worked for them while relaxed didn't worked for them after going natural. This article will provide both natural and mass market alternatives for transitioners.
The first thing you should invest in is both a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. I recommend Aubrey organics Honeysuckle Rose shampoo and conditioner as a natural alternative and both Suave tropical coconut conditioner and Herbal Essence Hello Hydration mass market. But, trial and error will help you to figure out what makes your hair thrive. Most naturals tend to stay away from shampoo because they strip the moisture from your hair and as a natural, we need all the moisture we can get. I personally follow the no poo regimen. Every week, I cleanse my scalp using conditioner only, which is referred to as a conditioner wash or cowash. If I need an extra cleansing, I add a little baking soda to my conditioner wash. It will take a while to get use to using condition only to cleanse your scalp because we have be brainwashed into thinking our hair isn't clean without suds and squeaky clean hair but you'll get used to it.
Never rinse out all of your conditioner and ALWAYS use a leave-in conditioner. As a natural, I've used Giovanni Direct Leave-in from the health food store as well as Alba leave-in but my favorite is by Kinky Curly Knot Today. I've recently began using Yes to Cucumbers Daily Hydrating Hair Care Conditioner as my leave-in. You can purchase Alba, Giovanni, and Kinky Curly at most Whole Foods and Alba and Giovanni at the Vitamin Shoppe. Yes to Cucumbers can be found at select Target and Walgreens. A Mass market leave-in that i've read good things about is Herbal Essence.
Next, you'll need a good moisturizer. This will be the MOST important part of your regimen. You will HAVE to keep your new growth moist during your transition. Moisturizer is key to keeping your hair soft and manageable. It will also help to prevent breakage at the line of demarcation (the line where the natural and relaxed hair meets). There are a lot of good natural hair care lines that can be ordered online. My personal favorite is Qhemet Biologics Alma/Olive Heavy Cream mixed with the Olive/Honey Hydrating Balm. Another that I really like is Karen's Body Beautiful Hair Cream. Mass market products that I've heard good things about include Organic Root Stimulator Olive Cream and Profectiv, which both can be purchased from Sally Beauty Supply. Hopefully, someone will post some recommendations in the comment section below. Remember that items containing mineral and petroleum are said to block out moisture and clog pores so it is recommended that you stay away from those.
Next, you will need an oil to seal in your moisturizer. I'll suggest avocado oil, castor oil, or olive oil. These are the only three oils that actually penetrate the hair shaft and soften the hair. All other oils sit on top of the hair. You can get olive oil at any grocer or walmart. It's best to get avocado oil and castor oil at the health food store. You can get a big bottle of castor oil for a low price but avocado oil is pretty expensive. A lot of the mass market oil blends like Hot Six Oil are pure oil so ALWAYS read the ingredients.
Next you will need a styler, I use natural gels like kinky curly knot today, Aubrey Organics Mandarin Magic Moisturizing Gelly, and Kiss My Face Upper Management Gel as well as creamy natural stylers like Ohm Body Sweet Hair Pudding. Mass market, people swear by eco styler gel as well as Sparkle-lites and several curl activator gels from the local beauty supply store.
During my transition I wore my hair wrapped the first couple of month until the roots got too thick. After that, I started setting my hair with two-strand twists for twistout wavy styles. You can do the same with single braids (plaits) for braidouts.
Braidouts, Twistouts, cornrows, flat twists, rollerset and other transitioning styles help blend the natural and relaxed hair textures. Heat can damage the new growth if not utilized properly so I chose to avoid heat but that's a personal choice. Many people choose to press their hair weekly press or opt for a Dominican blowout and flat iron style.
Check out the transitioners forum on http://www.nappturality.com. I don't think I would have made it through my journey without the inspiration of that site.
With Winter fast approaching in North Carolina, a cold weather healthy hair care regimen that I recommend includes:
Cowash (Yes to Tomatoes) Deep condition with heat (AOHR, Elucence MBC, or Yes to Cucumbers) Apply leave-in (Yes to Cucumbers) Moisturize (Qhemet AOHC mixed with OHHB) Twist/braid set while wet using styler (AO MMHMJ or OHM SHP)
Because I am already natural, as added step, I ALWAYS seal my ends with castor oil, which is especially important in the cold weather months due to the various coats, hats, scarves, sweaters that your ends may come in contact with on a daily basis.
When my single strand knots get out of control I'll coat my entire hair strand.
My Hairstory - I began my transition to natural hair August 24, 2007.
I transitioned for a little over five and a half months and did the BC (Big Chop) on Sunday February 17, 2008.
My hair is what is defined as type 4a with very little 3C in the front top.
My hair album is located at http://www.fotki.com/new2naptural